Off the mark
Outcomes become the name of the game
If only. “Outcome-based sourcing continues to face headwinds,” explains Huber of Alsbridge. “Progress is being made, but the fact is that outcomes are difficult to define in a way that fits traditional contract structures, and they take time to get right. This is going to take more work by smart, creative deal-shapers before outcome-based sourcing can truly replace traditional input-based models as the predominant sourcing model.” So far, the best we can offer is that some deals have shifted from input-based to output-based, says Brad Peterson, partner in Mayer Brown’s Chicago office. “Pricing on outcomes like cash collections looks like a true answer but—like most true answers—takes great diligence and skill to achieve and remains relatively rare,” he explains. “However, the move to output-based pricing is an important move away from the typical pricing based on inputs and a step closer to a true business outcomes measure.”
The business takes over
Business leaders did play a bigger role in procuring IT services—particularly cloud services—than in the past. However, “IT remains vital for the integration of service provider solutions and for effective security,” says Eisner. “The business has certainly taken over the digital agenda in many organizations and SaaS solutions, such as HR technology, are being made outside of IT,” says ISG’s Hall. “But, many CIOs have stepped up this year to own the digital agenda for their enterprise.”
And odds are IT may become even more integral to future sourcing decisions. “Cybersecurity and interoperability trump unfettered business-centrism as the Internet of Things adds another layer of complexity and vulnerability,” says Huber Alsbridge.
The RFP fades
“The RFP continues to be an essential piece of the competitive procurement process, particularly for complex products and services,” says Tanowitz of Pace Harmon. “However, we are seeing more collaborative approaches to RFPs, such as co-developing statements of work and creating more solution-oriented approaches to RFPs that lend more flexibility to the process and allow suppliers to offer innovative solutions.”
While the RFP remained entrenched, it did not go unquestioned. “The RFP has not gone away, but the old templates have grown stale, and sourcing processes, including RFPs, need to become more adaptive,” says Alsbridge’s Huber. The tried-and-true approach never worked well for emerging technologies, says Peterson of Mayer Brown. “There, RFIs, RFSs and Proof of Concept projects work better. However, the RFP has remained a trusty tool for traditional outsourcing deals where it remains important to communicate requirements and obtain comparable information from potential service providers.”
Wait and see
Dawn of the cloud robots
“We’ve certainly seen an uptick in conversations about robotics process automation (RPA), but the reality is that cloud robots are still little more than Excel macros at this point,” says Tanowitz. “Providers discuss cloud robots frequently and the benefits can be meaningful in terms of productivity gains, but we haven’t seen clients take advantage of the technology in a meaningful way.” Automation is advancing, says Brian Bodor, partner in the global sourcing practice of Pillsbury, “but we have yet to see the ‘rise of the machines.’ We expect to continue to watch this trend in 2016 and beyond.”
Where robotics and automation have taken hold is not cloud computing, but business process outsourcing, says Roy of Mayer Brown.
Supplier risk takes center stage
Outsourcing customers did not get serious about supplier risk overall, but they did get hyper-focused on cybersecurity. As a result, clients paid more attention to service location in signing deals, says Eisner of Mayer Brown. “We generally see supplier risk conversations ebb and flow with current events,” explains Pace Harmon’s Tanowitz. “Rather than preparing for supplier risk based on geographic instability or events, we’re seeing enterprises preparing more holistically for disaster response and recovery, including assessing cybersecurity risks and the protection of customer data that may be in the hands of their supplier.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.